Here in Corvallis (which means “heart of the valley” – isn’t that lovely?) we’ve had a gorgeous week of crisp sunny mornings and warm afternoons. Perfect for long hikes to admire the autumn foliage and gather a few wild apples or late blackberries. So for my Perfect Picture Book Friday selection I chose Julie Fogliano’s exquisite ode to nature, WHEN GREEN BECOMES TOMATOES: Poems for All Seasons.

Title: WHEN GREEN BECOMES TOMATOES: Poems for All Seasons

Written by: Julie Fogliano

Illustrated by: Julie Morstad

Roaring Brook Press, 2016, Fiction

Fun for Ages: 3 and UP

Themes/Topics: seasons, nature, poetry, wonder, beauty, contemplation/reflection

First poem:

march 20

from a snow-covered tree

one bird singing

each tweet poking

a tiny hole

through the edge of winter

and landing carefully

balancing gently

on the tip of spring


Brief Synopsis (from publisher):

december 29
and i woke to a morning
that was quiet and white
the first snow
(just like magic) came on tip toes

“Flowers blooming in sheets of snow make way for happy frogs dancing in the rain. Summer swims move over for autumn sweaters until the snow comes back again. In Julie Fogliano’s skilled hand and illustrated by Julie Morstad’s charming pictures, the seasons come to life in this gorgeous and comprehensive book of poetry.”

Why I ADORE This Book: Fogliano’s 48 poems capture not just the imagery and sensory details of each season but also how those details evoke a vast range of emotions in us. She presents the brokenheartedness of gray days, exasperation of too much rain, and, of course, the magic of a first snow. Starting with spring and taking us through winter, she comes full circle ending the collection “on the tip of spring.”

I first fell in love with Fogliano’s distinctive writing style when I read IF YOU WANT TO SEE A WHALE. She taps into childlike wonder and curiosity. She brilliantly uses personification in a way that matches a child’s experience of nature (“I know enough/ to wonder/ what the trees would say/ if they could”).

Julie Morstad’s gorgeous gouache-and–pencil-crayon art sweetly complements the poetry. She features a diverse cast of children experiencing the many moods of nature.

I have a copy of this treasure out from the library, but when I run out of renewals, I’ll be heading to the bookstore to buy this book. I know I’ll be rereading this collection often both as a writer marveling at Fogliano’s craft and as a human who marvels at nature.

Ideas for Teachers: A breathtaking read aloud, I imagine teachers reading poems from this book year-round to mark the changing seasons. Students could also write their own free-verse season poems as part of a larger study of a particular season or as part of a poetry unit. Younger students might be asked to illustrate one of the poems in Fogliano’s collection or to illustrate their own nature poem. Teachers could point out instances in which Fogliano’s employs particular poetic devices, such as personification. After discussing examples, students could write their own poem using the discussed poetic devices.

(For a LOOONNNG list of links to picture book reviews, along with resources, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s site: http://susannahill.com/for-teachers-and-parents/perfect-picture-books/.)

5 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: WHEN GREEN BECOMES TOMATOES

  1. Oh I love the sound of this book! Why don’t I read more poetry? I’m glad you’ve been enjoying lovely fall days…we’re in a spell of (much needed) rain–longing for those deep blue autumn skies. Thanks for the heads up on this picture book.

    Liked by 1 person

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